Utne Reader Illustrated: Brett Affrunti

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In this continuing series, Utne Reader Art Director Stephanie Glaros explains the
process behind an
Utne Reader
illustration.

One of the fun things about being an art director is all the
awesome mail I receive. My inbox is overflowing with postcards from artists
vying for my attention. Note to illustrators: a handwritten message works
wonders.
I tack my favorites to a bulletin
board that serves as visual stimuli when I contemplate what to do for art. When
I was thinking about how to illustrate the story “Jelly Roll’s Storyville,” I
perused my wall of postcards, and came across one from Brett Affrunti that had exactly
the vintage feel I was looking for. I referred to this image (below, left) when
I contacted Brett, and asked him to create something “narrative/realistic” in his
vintage style that portrays “Lomax as sort of a music geek, and Morton as the
flashy-dressing musician” being interviewed. Brett did a lot of research for
this piece, not only about the two men, but also the Coolidge Auditorium, and
the disc recorders Lomax actually used for the interview. His sketches reflect
his research, and the final piece turned out even better than I imagined.

Since its inception in 1984, Utne Reader has relied on talented artists to create original
images for stories that express powerful emotions, brilliant new ideas, and
humorous storytelling. Browsing through back issues of
Utne Reader is like a tour of “Who’s Who”
in the illustration world. Artists like Gary Baseman, Brad Holland, Anita Kunz,
Bill Plympton, and Seymour Chwast have graced our pages over the years, to name
just a few.

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